Los Angeles, CA | September 10, 2019–Burrana CEO, David Withers, has announced the appointment of Chris Brady as a Non-Executive Director on the Board effective 2 September. Chris brings more than 30 years’ aviation experience and a wealth of knowledge to the Board.

Withers said that Chris is an accomplished leader and a successful entrepreneur who will add a lot of value to the Board. “We are confident that Chris’s business acumen and knowledge of the aircraft seating industry will add great value to our Board of Directors and that Burrana will benefit from his knowledge, insights and counsel.”

In taking up his position as a Director, Brady said that he was pleased to have joined such an innovative organization with more than 50 years of heritage.

“I look forward to helping Burrana grow and enabling even more airlines to provide passengers with an extraordinary experience” said Brady.

Chris begun his aviation career in the late 1980s. After training with British Airways as an undergraduate, Chris joined Virgin Atlantic as an engineer. In his ten-year tenure at Virgin Atlantic, he became General Manager Product Development and was responsible for innovation across the entire passenger experience, including inflight entertainment and seating.

A natural entrepreneur, Chris co-founded FlightStore in 2000, an inflight entertainment software business that provided online shopping via seatback TV. In 2007 Chris co-founded UK seating manufacturer, Acro Aircraft Seating. Chris led Acro as CEO until early 2019 following its sale in 2017 to Zhejiang Tiancheng Controls Co Ltd and having grown the business to have more than 100,000 seats flying on both wide and narrow body aircraft for airline customers on each continent.

Perhaps in summary, the digEcor company is summed up in three words: Integrated Flight Experience. digEcor is redefining the expression “IFE”. Their entertainment solutions, power, LED lighting and connectivity for customers and crew is redefining the integrated suite of products that extends the company portfolio outside the realms of IFE only. And this is what new digEcor CEO and Managing Director David Withers (2 years now) told IFExpress recently at an industry trade convention and what he told us here is for our readers evaluation. Make no mistake, David is an ambitious guy, and his personality and drive will be expressed in the products, service, and the philosophy of the “new” digEcor heralding a new era for the company and setting them up as a key market player for years to come.
Let’s look at the three pieces we mentioned in our Hot Topic title separately; New Concepts, New Company, and the New CEO, David Winters.

First, the issue here is NEW Concepts, or new products, which we note include new ideas on new products and new features on existing ideas/products. We contacted the company for help and they gave us a “running” description that we include for your edification.

Obviously Glide is our cornerstone product and it is a game changer. The lightest and cheapest seat back solution on the market today is also the easiest to install with only 3 components none of which need a rack. We are really proud of Glide, we’ve got a great engineering team and they’ve turned out a superb product at a great price. We design and manufacture everything in house so we have complete control over the functionality, quality and cost. I know others have been making noises about price but our similarly priced product is developed and ready for installation. Glide is available in 8”, 10”, 12”, 15” and 21” screen sizes. But, Glide is just part of the product range.”

One of the challenges we’ve faced is that digEcor as a brand was historically known for its Portable IFE devices. However, we are now so much more. Our integrated suite of products across the flight experience positions us in a much broader territory and we’ve had to work hard to get the message out. All of our products are either certified or on a certification path with a launch customer. It has been a busy two years!” That said, portables remain an important business for us and we’ve recently launched our fifth generation of purpose built portable media player, the NV series available in 8”, 10” and 12” screen sizes and with content storage from 64GB to 2 TB. Being purpose built they are rugged and have an exchangeable battery without losing any of the style of a contemporary tablet.”

In-Seat Power
Passenger surveys keep telling our airline clients that power is becoming essential for their customers in every class. Passengers expect power in the seat and digEcor has the right solution at the right price for both 110VAC and USB2.1A. Our USB power solution is very lightweight and fits in the audio seat box provisions on most seats making it surprisingly easy to install and certify. Airlines also have the ability to drive ancillary revenue through selling in-seat power on our system with an optional Cabin Management Panel (CM) where power is selectable at each individual seat by the cabin crew.”

Cabin Lighting
In Hamburg this year we launched our LED Lighting product range. This new feature of digEcor’s embedded Glide inflight entertainment system, allows passengers to control their in-seat lighting service by manipulating over 4 billion color settings to choose their preferred shade and intensity. It is easy-to-install, replaces existing light assemblies, operates through Glide and runs efficiently from existing power. It is configured for sidewall and ceiling use and is easily controlled by cabin crew.”

“Of course our focus is on the Integrated Flight Experience and our Engage crew connectivity solution exemplifies that. It brings the wealth of knowledge most airlines have on their frequent fliers buried away in ground systems on to the aircraft in a user friendly application for cabin crew. Qantas loves it and use it on every flight now.”

Tape Replacement Solution
digEcor’s Tape Replacement Solution is installed in place of the video control cabinet and connects to the aircraft’s existing audio/video systems to consolidate tape decks, PRAM and video controllers into a single unit. It mounts on a convenient galley or cabin wall and frees up overhead bin or galley space. It features up to 1 TB internal storage and is updated via SSD content drives, USB or 4G modem transfers. Because digEcor’s Tape Replacement Solution is the actual video control panel for Glide, our embedded IFE system, installing a seat centric system in first class, business or all seats becomes easier and more cost-effective should future needs drive such a change.”

Next, lets take a look at the New Company. In a discussion with Mr. Withers, he told IFExpress: “We pioneered portable inflight entertainment in 2003 when Bill Boyer, a baggage handler at Alaska Airlines, decided to take entertainment into his own hands. In 2004, the digEplayer 5500 won IFE Product of the Year at the IPEC Inflight Online Awards. The company was renamed digEcor and moved to Springville, UT. Over the coming years digEcor released the digEplayer XT, XLP, L7, L10 and now the new NV. It used the same innovation to develop Glide, it’s signature embedded inflight entertainment solution. In 2013 digEcor was acquired by Total Aviation Solutions and is now headquartered in Australia with offices in the Americas, Asia-Pacific and Europe.

David went on; “What the new company means and why… We now have offices in London, Australia and the US and provide 24/7 customer support. Our management structure follows our customer philosophy i.e. we are organized around our customers and we have been very successful in recruiting excellent leaders. For example Paul Thorpe our president Europe, Middle East and Africa operating from our London office has had a very successful career selling for and supporting the customers of some of the industry’s biggest players. But it wasn’t just his experience that I was looking for, it was his attitude towards the customer, his desire to take responsibility and be held accountable and above all else his ability to lead in a humble way. He is a typical digEcor employee and I love working with him and all the other members of the digEcor team.”

To give our readers an idea of the fallout of the new products and redirected team efforts here is what has been happening at digEcor HQ, here are a couple recent announcements:

  • AZUL: “digEcor is pleased to provide its L7 digEplayer solution to Brazilian carrier, Azul and Minneapolis-based Sun Country Airline. Its agreement with Azul to provide 1,100 L7 portable digEplayers also involves the provision of maintenance support and content integration services ensuring the airline can offer its passengers movie, television and audio programs from all the leading Hollywood studios and independent distributors. “digEcor is proud to work with Azul to deliver this portable IFE solution,” said digEcor Sales Director Americas Josh Rasmussen. “Azul is a leading airline in Latin America and we look forward to growing our relationship with them by providing first-class IFE service and support.”

Readers note that digEcor rents L7 portable media players for a low all inclusive daily rate, provides all the required hardware, content and a perpetual warranty. Every 60 days the players are swapped out with a fresh set containing updated content.

  • Sun Country Airlines: In further news, digEcor is very happy to be working closely with our valued customer Sun Country Airlines, who are bringing 700 portable L7 digEplayers back into service on all of their schedules services. “It’s a clear demonstration of the durability and reliability of the L7 system and a much appreciated acknowledgement of the quality and flexibility of digEcor’s content management program,” said Mr Rasmussen. “Sun Country Airlines always deliver excellent passenger service, we’re proud to help them do it.”

And finally IFExpress should mention a bit more about the NEW CEO David Withers. David founded digEcor’s parent Total Aviation Solutions in 2009 and has over 25 years’ experience in the aviation industry. He is a former President of Boeing Australia and was the Asia Pacific Managing Director for Smiths Aerospace (now GE Aviation) after completing his time with Qantas Airways. David has a Masters of Business Administration, an Honors degree in Communications Engineering, trade qualifications in aircraft maintenance and is a commercial pilot. He is a fellow of the Royal Aeronautical Society, the Australian Institute of Company Directors and the Australian Institute of Management.

From the IFExpress perspective, it is obvious that David is passionate about building great businesses based around great teams, with great products… and all focused on delivering value to customers. Cliché? Perhaps, but it is what drives him… and he is driven. In the two years since acquiring digEcor he has brought to market a huge range of new cabin technology products all designed for a new and better passenger experience.

So where to from here? David told IFExpress; “Having achieved so much in the past two years we could be easily forgiven for taking some time to consolidate, but I’m a builder by nature and won’t rest until we’ve carved a place in history for digEcor. This is the tip of the iceberg, there is a large market to capture and we are well on our way to do so. Watch this space…

Our big story is a recent interview with a busy David Withers, the new owner and CEO of digEcor, the folks who developed the digEplayer. IFExpress had a short chat with him and from our perspective; the Utah-based IFE company is going to be very much a worldwide operation. Mr. Withers comes to the IFE business with an aviation pedigree that includes: Qantas, Boeing, and TAS Brisbane, his own avionics company based in Australia. By building teams in the Americas, SE Asia (Singapore – Australia), and Europe (coming soon), he plans to focus on customer satisfaction and product development… especially for the narrow-body market. Remarked Mr. Withers, “Since some 65% of the aircraft market out there is single-aisle, and under 20% are equipped with IFE, we see our role in this segment as the perfect blend for both portable and embedded entertainment hardware solutions. Acquiring the digEcor assets and team then combining it with our existing business base has us poised to grow this business, especially with our focus on CRM (Customer Relationship Management). By understanding our customers better, our plan is not only to retain the existing customer base, but we will win new ones – it’s in our DNA and our business plan as we will continue the development of organizational structure to provide products that will take single-aisle entertainment to the next level.” David told IFExpress to invite APEX show-goers to stop by the digEcor Booth 1626 and meet some of the new team members and check out their next phase of growth. Stay tuned on this one, and we hope to have a developing story on the new digEcor soon.

Editors note: Here are some related historical links we found on Mr. Withers and CRM.

We also wanted to give our readers one last rundown of the busy IFEC show season that is upon us. First and foremost is the big deal show for InFlight Entertainment and Connectivity here in the US. The show is sponsored by APEX and there are three reasons to go. The first is the IFE vendors, most of who are headquartered in California and close to Anaheim. This is their home turf and where they bring out their big guns in the form of people, products, and parties. The second is the fact that the movie houses are firmly planted in Hollywood, 35 miles from Anaheim… you got the picture. Lastly, IFSA (International Flight Services Association) is co-showing with APEX in Anaheim this year. We keep mentioning the delight of cruising the IFSA aisles and the wonderful food services job that vendors lay out to woo airlines. Take an hour or so to check out the latest food and delivery innovations… it’s almost as good as Wi-Fi.

Editors Note: We want to advise our readers who will be participating in the forthcoming APEX Conference that next IFExpress issue will feature show-who-is-where information such as booth number and product description. The September 9 – 12 IFEC event is one of the major IFEC events of theyear so let our readers know where you will be located. We are happy to publish the following for you: Company name, Contact Name (phone, email, etc.), Product(s)/Service(s) Description (brief please), and your Booth Number. See you there!

The next not-to-miss event takes place in Seattle on October 1 – 3: the Aircraft Interiors EXPO Americas. This show has a new feature that we really like, The Seating and IFE Integration Symposium that runs on Tuesday October 1. We talked to a few folks participating and we expect a lot of in-seat power and cabin Wi-Fi issues to be on the table along with passenger seating which seems to be undergoing a great transformation in design and functionality. We are told the relative new Americas show is growing each year and now has over 100 vendors involved. IFExpress went last year and we were pretty impressed at how little we knew about the cabin that was not IFEC related. We strongly recommend this free show. Also, the AIEA has now collocated with the Composites World Show and this may be quite interesting as interior vendors are being driven by the OEM’s to deliver lighter composite cabin interior solutions.

If you just have to go to Las Vegas, The Future Travel Experience Show will be found at Mandalay Bay September 4 – 6. FTE is an “Out-There” show that likes to headline some of the newest ideas in flying travel like the latest industry focus “On the Ground” and “Up in the Air” developments. Check out their website and don’t tell the boss it’s in Las Vegas.

In case you didn’t see the latest news from Lumexis and you can read it here. Be advised, there is soon going to be a new kid on the Boeing B737-800/900 offerability block. We reckon that there has been a lot of talk from airlines wanting to purchase the Lumexis FTTS system if it is installed on the airplane assembly line (not retrofit later) from customers that will be receiving their B737’s in the forthcoming years. It’s not inexpensive but the business prospects are probably daunting. Editors Note: Be prepared for a different OEM offerability deal with an IFE vendor, but this time with Airbus!